Lighting Ideas for Outdoor Spaces

Keep the party going into the night and turn up the ambiance with these alfresco lighting solutions.

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June 21, 2018

Photo By: Design 4 Corners

Photo By: PopFizz | Bryan Allen

Photo By: Stephen Dunn

Photo By: Terracotta Design Build

Photo By: Sam Henderson

Photo By: Tomas Espinoza

Photo By: Coreen Schmidt Photography

Photo By: Gary Payne

Photo By: Ana Rodriguez-Gonzalez and/or Lorenzo Gonzalez

Photo By: Gardener’s Supply

Photo By: Martin Cox Photography; Design By: June Scott, June Scott Design

Romantic Lanterns

Lanterns are a popular lighting choice and a great option when electricity is not within reach. If there's a chance of anyone knocking one over, opt for battery-operated candles. There are many faux candle options available with realistic looking wicks so you don't have to sacrifice ambiance for safety.

Bohemian-Inspired Statement Fixture

Dress your patio from top to bottom to make even the smallest space feel like an inviting retreat. The combination of a trendy rattan pendant light and strings of tiny twinkle lights create depth and visual interest.

Poolside Lanterns

Place lanterns around a pool or water feature to illuminate the water and make it glow and shimmer.

Go Metallic

These copper fixtures help take this modern-farmhouse covered porch to the next level.

Mix Up String Lights

Varying sizes of string lights arranged in a fun pattern on a backyard wall make a bold statement that is super practical.


For a trendy boho look, use a variety of colorful Luminarias in different patterns. Make your own using decoupage and containers laying around the house, get instructions here >>

Classic String Lights

Cafe lights add a gorgeous glow to an outdoor living space, but they can be tricky to hang if you don’t have trees or other tall objects to string them from. Here’s a freestanding solution for hanging lights that uses planters and wood posts. Get step-by-step instructions here >>

Global Inspiration

This outdoor dining area by designer Emily Henderson blends nature with the comfort of indoors, including a modern globe light that features intricate metal details that are on par with this summer's global trend.

Ambient Lighting

When it comes to outdoor entertaining after dark, ambient lighting adds sophistication to any get-together. This menagerie of hanging mismatched lanterns gives a cool eclectic vibe to this covered patio.

Modern Courtyard

For small outdoor spaces with fences or privacy walls that are near to the house, run string lights back and forth over the living area to create an imaginary ceiling. In this cozy courtyard, the lights seem to blend into the trees, giving the space a more intimate feel.

Sputnik-Shaped Solar Chandelier

Need a chandelier for your outdoor dining space, but don’t want the expense of running electricity? Craft a space-age light fixture using solar landscape stakes and wood dowels. Get the step-by-step instructions >>

Incorporate the Unusual

When decorating your outdoor space, don't be afraid to go bold and eclectic, just have fun. In this screened porch, the unique pendant light made of wooden slats incorporates an artistic element while still blending with nature.

From: Deborah Bettcher

Starry Night

Pockets of seating create a sense of coziness in this outdoor room. The cavernous space benefits from the glow of interior lighting while boasting its own outdoor fireplace. A custom light fixture made from perforated metal stars add regional style and sparkle.

Solar Bottle Lantern

Here’s a fun project for kids and grownups alike: Upcycle empty bottles to create solar garden lighting. The Solar Bottle Lantern Kit, $12.95 from Gardener’s Supply, consists of a rubber stopper with three short LED light strings attached. Just insert the light strings into a bottle of your choice and place the stopper in the top of the bottle. A small solar panel on the top charges the battery so that when dusk falls the twinkling LED lights begin to glow. Display the weatherproof project anywhere you like, year round.

Path Lighting

Landscape lighting is an important safety element for any outdoor space. In this garden, a series of path lights and uplights illuminate a meandering walkway that leads to the destination terrace.

Torch Lighting

Instead of predictable column lights and wall fixtures, this elegant backyard incorporated torches for a totally cool tropical vibe.

Layers of Light

Layers of light are as important to designing a welcoming outdoor living area as they are to indoor spaces. So, just as you might include recessed overhead lights, lamps and wall sconces in your living room, outdoors you can plan to brighten walls, landscaping elements and even overhead. In this project, landscape architect June Scott installed small directional lights in a large tree to create what she calls a "moonlight" effect. Additional fixtures graze the walls, "creating shimmering patterns." She supplemented with candle lanterns around the perimeter — an easy and affordable option that works in any space, no wiring required.

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